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Easter is God's unwillingness to abide a future defined by loss and grief. Easter opens up a new horizon where oppression and exploitation no longer rule, where the machinery of the state no longer serves only the powerful and the wealthy, where hope is no longer mindless dreaming but the promise of a new world built on love and justice. Subscribe …
 
In other words, when structures and organizations, when systems and laws, when policies and procedures are put in place to make sure the people in power stay in power while simultaneously making sure that the people who are 'supposed' to stay on the outside stay on the outside, the Holy Spirit shows up and starts making trouble. Every time. Subscri…
 
Isaiah also seems to think there’s more to see. We’ve lived with a vision of reality that includes the clutching, grasping, irresistible pursuit of Death—not only the death of the body, but the threat of death that makes us hate and fight and fear. But Isaiah sees more. Isaiah sees a world where God reigns on a holy mountain. And on this mountain D…
 
Pilate represents a king who rules the masses through fear and intimidation, a king who’s quick to unleash violence upon those who might question his reign. Surrounded by the engines of war, this king demonstrates his weak hold on power, knowing that if he lets down his guard for even a moment, if he lets any slight go unanswered, the oppressed wil…
 
There’s no room in the economy of God for self-promoters and glory hounds. It's easy to think that it's all about me, about what's in it for you-know-who. So when I come looking for Jesus, what I see still surprises me. In Jesus, the powers and principalities behold God’s countering of this world’s glory with glory of God’s own. Because God doesn't…
 
The good news of the gospel is that Jesus announces that a party’s being thrown in the light, a party the whole world’s invited to—even those people the cool kids are convinced don’t have any business being there. Are you sure he meant the 'whole' world? Surely, Jesus didn’t mean everyone. That seems unnecessarily generous, don’t you think? Yep, th…
 
Don’t let anyone fool you. When Jesus went into the temple that day, it was an explicitly political act. It was an ancient Near Eastern version of John Lewis marching across the Edmund Pettis bridge. So, knowing that the people who are the most vulnerable are the ones getting fleeced by the folks in power, maybe the question shouldn’t be 'How can J…
 
Once you start talking about LGBTQ people having the same rights and protections as everyone else, you’ve put yourself in the crosshairs of everyone who likes the world the way it is. Just say what should be obvious to everyone—that Black Lives Matter—and you’ll start experiencing the power of the people who employ crosses as a threat. Speak up and…
 
When Jesus meets us out in the wilderness, he doesn’t magically cure all the violence, doesn’t stopper the mouths of the wild beasts who reside there. Instead, he provides healing … which is a different frame, one that offers hope where before there was only the inevitability of fear and death. Healing gives us enough space to consider new possibil…
 
Why does he leave—when it’s safer to just camp out here? Jesus goes down the mountain into the valley of the shadow of Lent, because that’s where his presence is needed most. That’s where the last, the least, and the lost scramble to survive. Down there. I suspect he goes down there because he’s heard the voices of people terrified at the thought o…
 
If we take the first two stories of Jesus’ ministry in Mark seriously, we’re left to conclude that Jesus understands the right thing to be the restoration to full participation in the community to those who’ve been cut off, left on the sidelines, forced to press their noses against the stain glass windows to try to get a glimpse inside. He offers n…
 
There are all kinds of people who would love to hear about a God who raises an arm against injustice, who will not tolerate bigotry, who refuses to sit by while the work of the laborers is monetized in ways that only benefit the people in charge, who are desperate for a word from a God who is incensed with a world in which Black parents lie awake a…
 
As Jesus says, these tyrants and oppressors need to repent, because there's a new ruler who is going to go fishing, hooking the jaws of the unjust and the proud, leaving them out in the wilderness for the carrion-eaters to pick apart. The kingdom of God is at hand. So, when Jesus calls Simon, Andrew, James, and John to follow him and he will make t…
 
So, this story of Samuel’s courage is an uncomfortable one. It raises questions: "Where are those places in our world where justice has been cast aside?" "Where is God asking us to tell those in charge that they've failed to do what's right, failed to treat those at the bottom of the pile in a manner pleasing to God?” “Where are we when the cries o…
 
Mark opens and closes the ministry of Jesus in spectacular fashion. He announces that in Jesus—in his life and work and death—God has come among us. God has torn the veil that formerly separated humanity from the divine. And this tearing is no sweet opening of a door. Open doors can be closed again. In Jesus, God has ripped the door off the hinges!…
 
The world we live in is busy looking for a chief executive who’s not afraid of unleashing power to retain control—even if it undermines everything a country says it stands for or costs the lives of innocents and the dignity of the oppressed—but Matthew gives us a shepherd. But you see, that’s the good news. Because a ruler born in a stable in a now…
 
Indeed, the patience we evince as followers of Jesus is one that harbors in its very DNA a kind of impatience—a refusal to remain detached in the face of wrong, a holy sense that the world as it is isn’t what God had in mind. Though we can’t set everything right by force of will, we refuse to sit on our hands, grumbling about our impotence. Because…
 
That's the thing about humiliation, it's not just about embarrassment; it's what's left after embarrassment has moved in and made a home. It's the vulnerability so much of the world knows first hand and only too well. Humiliation is trying to figure out how to keep the lights on and pay the rent, let alone buy Christmas presents for the kids when t…
 
The year of the Lord's favor, when God comes among us and puts things right that have been wrong for so long, delivering the weary and the dispossessed from their oppression, such glad tidings don't come as good news to the folks who have everything to gain by things staying the same. Because God isn't just saying pretty words. God will persist unt…
 
The third slave is treated like whistleblowers regularly are when they lay bare the despicable truth: The master in this story, as has so often been the case throughout history, isn't a benevolent employer handing out generous Christmas bonuses; he's a boss who's gotten rich by exploiting the labor of others—and when he's called on it, he lashes ou…
 
Unfortunately, over the past four years, our country has been manufacturing more of these people who show up at our door, in our world, asking to be welcomed, asking to be allowed some human dignity, asking for a little peace and justice. So, we have an even bigger job than usual in trying to shape the world we live in to look a little bit more lik…
 
Even so, this is difficult to listen to if what you think Jesus came to do was to inflict niceness on an otherwise testy Near East. Jesus just sounds so … cranky. Couldn’t we get the nice Jesus—the one who loves children and little old ladies? This whole fire-breathing itinerant prophet thing is tough to watch. I mean, this is going to be a difficu…
 
Moses could tell us: only God knows where it all leads, what it finally means. We are the story God writes. God only knows. Whatever we or our lives as preachers, homemakers, executives, factory workers, or second sopranos means is ultimately up to God. We live therefore with the conviction that God really does put us to good purposes, even though …
 
It’s so easy to think that the safest place to be ... would be ... to be ... where we’d been ... where we used to be. It feels so simple to think that if we could just recapture what was here before, we’d be able to handle what was happening now. The message of Jeremiah, however, is that the safest place to be is the place where God has placed us—w…
 
And if the King is unworthy to rule his subjects, how do we who follow Jesus challenge such a leader? What is our responsibility in standing athwart one ruler's unjust treatment of his own subjects? What this parable invites us to do in our context isn't necessarily to equate God and the King, but to contrast them.And if the King is unworthy to rul…
 
As those who follow Jesus, our job is also to read the world in which we live, and to hold it up against the world God intends in God’s new creation. In other words, it’s our job to help paint a picture of the way we’re truly meant to live together—where everyone is taken care of, not just the high-rollers who have the power and the money live it u…
 
The reign of God does not exist where black people have to cry out against state-sanctioned violence against them … sometimes, even in their own homes … where they have to live with a justice system that is designed to punish them disproportionately, where black families have to walk out into a world every day that has shown time and time again tha…
 
To the peasants Jesus was addressing, this is how the story would have been heard: the rich vineyard owner goes out to exploit the expendable people who otherwise can't feed themselves. (They are literally some of the most vulnerable people in the world.) Then the vineyard owner humiliates them by forcing them all to take the same pittance—regardle…
 
So, what does that forgiveness look like? When, and under what circumstances should I offer it? I wish there were an algorithm into which I could plug my experience, the depth of the hurt, the nature of the offender’s remorse and recovery, and have it spit out answers to those questions. But I don’t have such an algorithm. All I have is a community…
 
This thickheaded shepherd is missing one sheep. He’s got 99 other sheep. What does he do? Does he write off the one lost sheep on his tax returns? Does he casually post on other people’s Facebook page, “All sheep matter?” I mean, he’s got 99 well-behaved sheep, ones that haven’t given him heartache. Why risk losing anymore by going out hunting the …
 
Jesus announces a new reign that will stand in stark contrast to the empire of Rome. In the old empire, the first shall be first, and the last shall mind their p's and q's and stay in their place. In the new realm, conventional wisdom—and the social arrangements that ensure it—will be turned on its head. The first will be last, and the last will fi…
 
There are people who’ve been red-lined clean out of the conversation about what a just society might look like, people who’ve effectively been barred from the voting booth where they might be heard about what equity might entail, people who’ve seen the dreams of their children squashed under the boot of those who’ve been told some people don’t matt…
 
According to the text, Jesus says to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Generally, we’re tempted to interpret this as a scolding, as Jesus' annoyance with Peter for not keeping his eyes on the one who walks on water. And yet, it may not be a scolding at all. It sounds so much more like pleading: "How could you not know it was me? How co…
 
Matthew shows us something about the way the rulers and the powerful of this world usually operate: there’s often more than enough for everybody to enjoy, but somebody always ends up dead. But when God gets the world God wants, though scarcity seems to rule, there’s more than enough to give life to everyone. Subscribe to us on iTunes! Sermon text: …
 
In God's story, we don't sit passively waiting for an apocalypse in which God comes to smite God's enemies and reward the faithful. In the story God tells about what's real and what's not, we work in the midst of suffering to help the world begin to see what God's reign of peace and justice will look like when it's finally accomplished. We're not a…
 
In a world obsessed with its own private longings, following Jesus frees us from ourselves, and redirects our longings, focusing them no longer on ourselves, but onto the people who need our passion most—the despised and rejected, the misused and forgotten, the voiceless and the vulnerable. In other words, the people who are always at the mercy of …
 
In following Jesus, our lives lived in hope are a clenched fist in the face of the systems of domination and death that screams out, “You do not own us! You will not have your way with us! We live for one who does not live in fear!" Subscribe to us on iTunes! Sermon text: [ web][1] | [ doc][2] [1]: [2]: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GN9-vlkdqruI…
 
If you happen to be one of the people kicked to the curb by the folks in charge, Jesus’ anger down at the Temple may just be what love sounds like. Subscribe to us on iTunes! Sermon text: [ web][1] | [ doc][2] [1]: [2]: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1J0CA7IOcumeiXm7tBVG46ju3hlZQ38PA/view?usp=sharing…
 
The reign of God announces a new kind of family, the beloved community, one that doesn’t underwrite a system built on racism, patriarchy, cisgender heterosexual norms, or wealth, or social position. It’s a different kind of family—one that makes room for those for whom there never seems to be enough room. The family Jesus announces isn’t first abou…
 
But it’s important to remember that Jesus’ protest, his public testimony, isn’t just a “no” to the folks in power; it’s a resounding “yes” to people who need the powers and principalities to step off the necks of the powerless, to work for the vulnerable—not against them. Jesus’ ministry is about laying out for us a vision of what God desires for a…
 
We need to find our own voice in the voice of God who cries out for a new creation, a new world, formed from the chaos—a world where the poor and the powerless finally have the seats of honor at the table… —a new world where immigrants are treated with the respect and dignity of those who are native born… —a new world where LGBBTQ people can flouri…
 
Paul says that the beloved community is about community. If someone is only concerned with “What’s in it for me?” the body will be miserable, just to the extent that a body cannot withstand an eye, an ear, or a pancreas that acts as though its function has no impact—except on itself. We are bound together you and I, a community given the task of li…
 
What Jesus prays for ultimately isn’t that we might be protected so that we can live happy lives, untroubled by inconvenience. He prays that we might be protected … as a way of safeguarding our unity. Because if Jesus’ followers can’t stand together against the things that cause God grief, then anything else we might have to say about love and peac…
 
It’s difficult, I know. But think about what the first Advocate, Jesus, looked like, how he acted, who he loved and who he stood up for. The poor, the hungry, the sick and despairing, the forgotten and the powerless, right? Then look around you for those who look like *that; look for the advocates. Standing up for people this culture doesn’t think …
 
Following me isn’t paint-by-numbers, no easy way to look like you know what you’re doing, without ever putting in the effort to become a master. That would be nice, but that’s not how it works. If you want to know the way to God, you’re going to have to live the way I live, challenge the injustice I challenge, show mercy the way I show mercy. Subsc…
 
All who believed were together and had all things in common, the writer of Acts says. They’d sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent time together in the temple, they broke break together at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the good…
 
The call to follow Jesus isn’t a call to give up your reason. It’s not about believing harder. It’s about being committed to moving forward, not knowing what you’ll encounter, but convinced you’ve got to do it anyway. You ask me … “Doubting Thomas” is the hero of this story, not because his doubting is somehow a map to mustering up belief for Post-…
 
I’ve heard a story about a different world, a world unlike the one we inhabit—where Death is king and we are his pawns and victims. I’ve listened to the tales of another world where there’s enough to eat and everyone has a safe place to lay their heads at night, where people don’t have to wonder whether they’ll be welcomed and embraced because of t…
 
We have a chance to be the miracle God is unleashing on a world plagued by deaths of despair. We can bring hope to the hopeless, a light to a dark world. Hang on. God is still breathing. The spirit still comes from the four winds. Life may seem to be having a rough go of it in the valley of the dry bones right now. But God’s isn’t finished yet. Sub…
 
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